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Oh Canada, What an Experience – Testimonials on International Military Training

By Staff Sergeant Juliet Clarke, Jamaica Defence Force –

As part of the Military Training and Cooperation Program (MTCP), the Canadian Forces Language School (CFLS) allows for international Defence Team members who are partners of Canada to come here and learn Canadian culture, democracy, and language. This article is the second of a two-part feature on recent graduates from the CFLS.

“O Canada”, “True Patriot Love”; lines from the Canadian National Anthem. A true patriot of love, respect and kindness.  My journey to this noble land started on 10 August, 2019 when I was met at the airport by my homestay family. They have provided a comfortable environment that has allowed me to feel at home despite being away from home. I came to Canada to undergo Language Teacher Training at the Canadian Forces Language School. I was excited yet fearful of the unknown lifestyle, culture and most importantly the weather. At school, the diversity of cultures among Student-Teachers and the professionalism of the Teacher-Trainers combined made me excited about learning. It was not too long after that I began to experience the true Canadian culture, and suddenly the fears disappeared and I was loving every moment of it.

The cultural excursions have provided a foundation for future learning and understanding of the Canadian way of life.  My travels on the OC-Transpo buses all over Ottawa just to get a close-up of various cultural and historical sites ensured a closer mingle with the Canadian people. It was also my only means of transportation to get a taste of poutine or the well-renowned Beavertails from the Byward Market. A closer encounter with history was my visit to Parliament Hill where I saw firsthand the Changing of the Guard and the Northern Lights Sound and Light Show which displayed the rich history of the origins of Canada. I felt such warmth that I wanted to be a part of such a culturally diverse and unique nation.

Originating from a land of sand, sea and sun I didn’t stop there however. Regardless of how cold it was, I would still venture outside just for the experience or mostly because I was required to. There was no snow just yet, but I boldly seized the opportunity to skate on ice at the ice skating rink. I was quickly reminded of how ignorant I was to this sport when my back was plunged against the ice, oh how funny that was.

The journeys I take in life can either make me or break me depending on the experience.  Sometimes it’s difficult to adapt to change and I may experience culture shock. But that’s the beauty of life, it exposes me to great people with unique cultures, it creates an avenue to forge lifelong friendships and unforgettable memories. Now when I return to Jamaica, my Canadian experience will forever be etched in my memory.

This post is also available in: Français (French)

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